BALI: Russia’s top diplomat stormed out of talks with G20 foreign ministers meeting in Indonesia on Friday as Western powers criticised Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
Washington and allies condemned Russia’s assault ahead of the meeting before Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov faced what US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called a barrage of Western criticism at the closed-door talks.
“What we’ve heard today already is a strong chorus from around the world...about the need for the aggression to end,” Blinken told reporters on the resort island of Bali.
Blinken and Lavrov had joined colleagues for day-long talks in their first meeting since the outbreak of war, with the host immediately telling them the conflict must end through negotiations.
But Lavrov walked out of a morning session as German counterpart Annalena Baerbock criticised Moscow over its invasion, diplomats said.
He also left an afternoon session before Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba addressed the ministers virtually and was not present as Blinken condemned Russia.
“Our Western partners are trying to avoid talking about global economic issues,” Lavrov told reporters outside the Mulia hotel. “From the moment they speak, they launch into fevered criticism of Russia.”
Blinken shunned a meeting with Lavrov and instead accused Russia of triggering a global food crisis, urging Moscow to allow grain shipments out of Ukraine.
“To our Russian colleagues: Ukraine is not your country. Its grain is not your grain. Why are you blocking the ports? You should let the grain out,” Blinken said in the closed-door talks, according to a Western official present.
Lavrov earlier told reporters he would not “go running” after Washington for talks.
“It was not us who abandoned contact, it was the United States,” he said.
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Before the meeting, Blinken met his French and German counterparts and a senior British official to discuss “Russia’s unprovoked and unjustifiable war of choice” in Ukraine, the State Department said in a statement.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi addressed the Ukraine war in a speech to the ministers, including Lavrov.
“It is our responsibility to end the war sooner than later and settle our differences at the negotiating table, not the battlefield,” Marsudi said.
Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2022